Winemakers Series Part I Natalie’s Estate Winery, Newberg, OR
What makes the Willamette Valley so special? Of course the wine has a lot to do with it, but who makes the wine? The people! More specifically, we can thank the pioneers who first came here in the 1960’splanted the first vines. We can also look to today’s pioneers who continue to innovate and learn how to improve their wines year over year, either through winemaking techniques or by altering the varieties of grapes they grow here, or bring in from other regions.
My purpose with this series is to highlight some of my favorite modern day pioneers who are further elevating what quality wine is in the valley to the benefit of us wine enthusiasts!
Boyd and Cassandra Teegarden founded Natalie’s Estate Winery in 1999, named after their daughter Natalie. This couple came from a background in the wine industry including a stint at E&J Gallo Winery. Boyd’s winemaking style is old school European small batch, without filtering and only neutral oak to allow the flavor and terroir of the grapes to shine through.
In addition to their estate grown Pinot Noir here in the Chehalem Mountains AVA they bring in fruit from Columbia Gorge, Columbia and Yakima Valley regions of Oregon and Washington. Access to these regions allows Boyd to increase his diversity of red wines to include Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Barbero and Meritage blends.
If you have visited Natalie’s Estate you may have noticed the rusty, aged barrel press next to the driveway. More than just a relic, this old world style of pressing grapes is still being used in the Teegarden’s production room under their tasting room, which is located in an old growth oak forest. They create a large variety of primarily red wines in small batches via this hand-pressed technique used by many home winemakers across the world. In addition to dry farming (no irrigation after the first year) they adhere to strict guidelines around sustainability at their Estate vineyard as well as the vineyards where they source their grapes outside of the Willamette Valley:
Sustainable winegrowing is a comprehensive set of practices that are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically viable. Sustainable winegrowing is being used by wine grape growers and vintners throughout the Pacific NW to grow and make the highest quality grapes and wine. These sustainable vineyard and winery practices conserve water and energy, maintain healthy soil, protect air and water quality and preserve local ecosystems and wildlife habitat. – Boyd Teegarden
The result is an artisanal product of premium quality, limited supply and maximum flavor. To insure a bottle or two of every wine, join their wine club or join them on their annual trip to Europe to hone their winemaking skills: they just returned from Italy with a group of 20 club members and rumor has it the 2023 destination will be Greece…
Montana also figures prominently in the Teegarden’s personal and professional lives. Boyd is an avid fisherman and they own property in Montana. They produce a special set of wines: Big Sky Collection, for sale in Montana, to benefit local river charities and highlight Montana artists on their labels.
What to expect at a Natalie’s Estate wine tasting visit? You will meet the winemaker, taste a cross section of their currently available wines and enjoy a food pairing included with every tasting (by appointment only). Relationships are front and center with their customers, collaborating with local wineries and the communities where they live. At this small, family-owned winery, everyone has multiple jobs, so expect Boyd, Cassandra or assistant winemaker Jeff Granger, to come in from the office where they are prepping shipments for wine club members, or from the production area or vineyard where they are making wine or pruning the vines. Don’t be surprised if you are greeted by a friendly dog or two! In addition Boyd offers vineyard tours, barrel tastings and winemaker dinners upon request and advance reservations.
Here comes the sales pitch: Book a wine tour with Triangle Wine Country and meet folks like Boyd & Cassandra! They are unique but there are other stories like theirs here in the Willamette Valley! We have scouted out other wineries with unique wines and unique personalities, with over 700 to choose from we will never run out of options! Do you want the best Pinot Noirs? Or the boldest reds? Or natural/biodynamic wines? Or the best views? Stay tuned as we discover other winemaker stories to entice you to take a tour!
(photo source: Natalie’s Estate Winery)